VII: A Single Hair {unedited chapters}

He looked out at the cattle, moving slowly in the morning light.

He looked down at his hands holding the reigns. He caught a glimpse – a shining long hair in the sunlight. Brown and lonely, clinging to his sleeve in the wind. He stared at it and flashed on the memories of past hesitating to touch the hair because maybe if he did so the memories would stop flooding his mind with remembrances of something he wanted to cherish for the rest of his life. Part of him wanted to chase after her and part of him knew it wasn’t meant to happen – it wasn’t meant to be what the movies said it would be not the kind of love that stays by your side forever it was the kind of love that is fleeting in it’s intimacy the kind that burns a whole in your soul forever.

So he stared at the hair shining in the sunlight and he hoped she was well and smiling like he remembered. So he stared at the hair grasping for him and remembered her grasping him back arched mouth open clinging to him in the morning light. So he stared at the hair and waited. He watched it lose it’s grip and in a floats he moved his other hand to grasp it and held the hair between his fingers, rolling it and his nose was filled with her scent sweet and salty and lingering and then he let go. He watched it float away from the cattle, into the sunrise.

He sighed.

VI Him {unedited chapters}

(I’m considering calling this thing Penny Collector. What do you think?)

He shall reman nameless. She decided never to put his name in her mind again. He kept calling, texting but she would only respond selectively to random queries had felt like responding to.

He would stay that way because because because she hated who she had been with him. Jack had loved him or tried to she had turned into a crazy woman. The need for his breath in her ear the need for his cock inside was beyond just physical there was something cathartic that came with him that made her want to explode and leave the world behind but then she lost herself she lost the person she had been inside of him as if with every orgasm he took more and more of her away, dissolved her insides and soul and built up someone some thing else. A person she did not recognize when she would look in there mirror and see the look in her eye, the quiet desperation to be in his arms to be touched or touch him for even an instant and the pain and desolate openness that would result from his leaving her to the point where she old go mad in her pain and need of him and try and hold it back texting innocuous questions about his corporate comfortable life needing wanting god she did not know this person.

She did not know herself as she slowly dissolved underneath him. And yet she needed that as if she were addicted to his presence. She fought with herself until she could do it no longer and then she would run and come back, tail between her legs the need for his touch growing so fast with so much pressure like a balloon in her chest that she could not help but find a way to reconcile and forget he was who he was because somehow she had convinced herself that he would grow change or hurt her less this time and he would make false promises she could hear it in his voice but still she accepted them and they went to bed to fill the addiction she needed.

V: pennies continued {unedited chapters}

Jack stared at the word more.

Pennies.

Not nickels, dollar, dime quarters, bills coins just pennies. The smallest least worthwhile form of payment the forgotten little coins that everyone loathed to carry, weighing down pockets and purses.

Pennies.

She generally disliked them and left them behind in trays and on tables, though she did have a habit of picking up pennies that were face up.

“Find a penny pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck,” she murmured to herself. She went to the kitchen and opened her bare cabinets and looked at the tiny morsels of foods that were still left then pulled down a jar of spaghetti sauce she had bought on sale last week opened the jar and dumped out the contents into the sink rinsing it all away with water from the tap. She rinsed out the jar and rummaged through her purse. Six pennies.

Jack dropped them into the jar one by one clink clink clink.

WIth that she began collecting pennies. Many of them. Hundreds, thousands millions. She did not go out of her way to get them she just saved her change and the pennies she found on the street, slowlyassuredy. when one jar was full she would buy another jar of the same spaghetti Saudi and empty it into the sink, rinsing the sauce away with tap water and then the jar and then placing the pennies in one by one clink clink clink.

lonlieness {unedited chapter}

She was not a medicine woman. She was not a witch. She was nothing supernatural, just a woman who made her life in the nowhere.

She looked at her son playing with block and a pan. he was gleeful at the moment and she sighed with happiness. Loneliness was part of he life and sometimes she felt like he would be the only repite from that actually he would be and she knew it in her heart she knew she would never have another and she knew it would happen to him – a short lived minute of happiness then a lifetime of hope that it would happen again. She only needed to pass the words in her heart long to whoever it was. It was not quite a tradition it was not quite a ritual there was no burning on incense or sage or spells to be recited it was something they had always done and that was all she knew it was something she was doomed and blessed to repeat and give to the next person the lonlieness and the knowledge of what would come to pass it was not fate that controlled us it was words in the heart that guided us from place to place and occasionally maybe someday it would guide someone to something other than this stillness of the heart the deep feeling that you get a small glimpse of what others have but you trade that for something greater the peace of heart the silence of pain and suffering for love the silence of depression and yet also the silence of more the wile of the better.

It makes no sense this story we’re telling. It does not have a purpose or a greater good it does not end in heaven or hell it ends somewhere else and we are striving for the nothing to know the highs and lows but then to get to the nothing where it is calm or so she hoped.

III: pennies {unedited chapters}

Weeks later Jack had a new job which was slightly better than the last one. It was an office job, writing descriptions of some kind or another for magazines and catalogs. it was easy and quick work and she genuinely kind of enjoyed work again. She still lived in the same semi decent apartment and at night dreamed of Michael – She had not had sex dreams as often as she did now. Sometimes it was just the feel of his face, she could never quite see him and slowly she was beginning for forget what he looked like except she could remember ever single crease, mole, wrinkle and valley of his body she felt her hands running over him and his over her body exploring slowly as if there was all the time in the world and she did not quite miss him it had only been a week after all.

She remembered.

One day jack remembered the journal he had given her – she had just woken from a dream where they say next together on a hill and she reached over to feel his face, her fingers twisting in his sideburns and stroking the soft skin on his neck. He was kissing her deeply and she woke up with a start, remembering the journal and the strange story.

She had not unpacked that bag as if leaving it as it was would contain all the memories of her short and strange trip to Montana a trip that had in all ways changed her life. She didn’t answer the calls from him anymore and she found that maybe she did not have that intense need and yearning for him since she left in a hurry. She was surprised he was still calling even, by now she though he would have let go with a shrug and gone on to whoever was net.

That bag as sacred in some strange way. She was not a religious person, but she held some things sacred, like monuments of places that meant everything, places and things to be worshipped. The broken lamppost piece from the fights in college, the shell from a trip to Mexico, a diner where she and her first boyfriend had kissed, the buddhist temple where she realized that nothing was real anyway. The bag that held the things she had hurriedly packed.

She opened it slowly now, as if being slow would keep the memories from tumbling out. She saw them as tufts of dandelions, delicate in their shape and not to be disturbed. Losing those last few memories would hurt beyond recognition. She had not idea what she would do if she lost them they were delicate and incomplete as many of her memories but she needed to keep them to keep going to keep the sense that she was allowed happiness even if it was only a week once in her twenties it was something.

The clothes were stil smelly and probably needed to be washed and the toiletries had exploded in their bag but there at the bottom was the brown leather journal, ties wrapped haphazardly and tied in a terrible bow. She slowly undid the bow and opened the journal it did not creak like a new book but softly folded open  – it had been waiting for her she knew  in her heart waiting for this moment in the dead of night when Los Angeles is as close to the quiet of Montana as it will ever be – in the middle of the page that had fallen open was a single word: pennies. It made no sense. SHe stared at it, looking at the prod pulling at her memory for a code a deciphering mechanism that would explain to her what that meant maybe something Michael had said, maybe one of the errant papers sitting around his haphazard trailer. but nothing came to mind as she searched through the little facts of history she knew and odd trivia points what could pennies mean?

“Maybe it’s a prompt.”

She scrummaged for a pen that works in the big cup on her desk and finally settled on a nubbly pencil that she had apparently tried to sharpen with a knife since she did not won a pencil sharpener.

She wrote.

“I have no idea what this means. But I think I miss him. I am forgetting his face.”

The looked at the small thing she had written for a few minutes, holding the pencil in mid air. She placed it in the spine. There was nothing else to write. Her mine was empty and she looked at the word again and it – did it just grow darker? that’s just silly, there is not such thing as magic no such thing like in the books she tended to like where the read world was tainted with something spectacular and vampires from history came to life and witches were discovered in family history, no that never happened. Yet, there it was, slightly bolder, like switching the font type from regular to bold with a keystroke control+b.

II: Ring ring {unedited chapters}

He called her because he couldn’t let go.

He knew he damaged her and hurt her, but in a sense, he didn’t give a damn. She would be there and she would answer his call. He was a good looking man and she evidently like him, in spite of the way he acted. He felt bad sometimes, but most of the time he was OK with it. It was her choice after all.

He called.

She had gotten out of his car two days ago. She had not called, not texted. It was unlike her. By now she was usually yearning for him, begging for him to come over without actually begging – he could always hear it in her voice – in the words tbat glittered across the screen – a sense of need even when she was just asking how his day at work went though she knew that it had been mostly fine since he was content in his corporate middle management occasionally he strived for more but it was never in ambition it was because he just wanted to appear more important and sleep even more comfortably at night knowing that he had climbed that ladder and was looking down at who he used to be he liked the way his business card looked and the stability of it all.

She did not answer. Maybe she was having one of her fits of discontent. He usually left her be around this time or came over anyway, sighing and repeating himself again and again that he was not meant for a relationship he was not meant to be needed like this and in truth (thought he never told her ) he came back for her body and her company. It was something like a hooker, except the price had nothing to do with money unless you counted the dinners out – it was more about paying emotional dues to get what he wanted out of her. He hated to think of it that way, he did not consider himself a hard person and he did care about her in his own way but caring could never lead to attachment (he was surprised it had gotten this far).

He remembered the way she looked whence walked in the door and how he responded to his touch, fighting the ecstasy his voice his touch his feel gave her. He smiled remembering his power over her.

He hung up without leaving a message She would call. She would call.

In a week she hadn’t called. He texted her innocuous comments, saying he wished he had someone there to share the moments with. She never replied. He was getting anxious now maybe it was time to move on maybe it was time to go on to the next girl and give up she had never made him completely happy anyway not that any girl could not that he’d let any girl do so. He had convinced himself through his own slow thought melding that he was not meant for attachment he was not meant for reliance he strived to punish her when she attempted to push that upon him and he always won with a sigh and a night twisting the sheets in her bed. But she had not called. It began to worry him.

I: Unplanned {unedited chapters}

(So I started working on a novel…novella..story? Anyway, thought I’d publish unedited chapters.)

“I think you just wanted to be fucked.”

He said this as a he labored over her and she let go of every single preconception and sadness she had in her soul. It wasn’t true, but at the moment, his breath is her ear, intoxicating as always was enough for anything.

They rose and fell together in the bed where they’d curled up and laughed and slept and dreamed of lives better or just like this one. He slept the corporate sleep a always and she willed herself to forget what the next day was, or what it would bring.

The end of an end that had taken too long and had hurt her too deeply. She knew from the start that this would be short lived but she fought against it, the intoxication of someone else, anyone else was too much to fight against and she was tired. But fuck it. This wasn’t happening anymore. In her mind, she turned the intoxication to disgust – she hated the heat of his breath and the adrenaline pumping through her veins and her hope and wil to want to love him and him to love her back. He reached out for her in his sleep as he always did – the unconscious part of him that needed her, since the conscious part sure as hell didn’t

But this was never going to be a love story, this was not a romantic comedy where he would latter realize his mistake and stand outside her window with a boombox, proclaiming his love. There was no love for him to give. EIther he was incapable or he just didn’t feel like it. Either way, the movie reel was snapping. Snap snap snap there was nothing left to play out.

She told herself that she would run from this in the morning, but then again she knew she would seek to keep him close as she could his hand reached out for her as they drove and she pulled away this wasn’t possible anymore she couldn’t stand to want to love him the pain of knowing she was doing something futile was enough.

So she got out of the car at the truck stop where she theoretically worked and he kissed her cheek. She told him not to come back.

Jack sat there, outside in the warmth, dreaming. She wanted to run away. And why not? She walked home, put some things in a bag, and started driving.

Montana was as you expect it to be, flat, with some trees here and there. Fences kept the snow at bay in the winter, and reminded everyone where the lines were in the summer. The fog made the trees look mysterious. Jack pulled over and stared at them for a indeterminate amount of time. So many, so alike, blending into a field of green set agains a different green and yellow. She picked out the dying ones, needles turned red-brown, the other trees inching away from the death, as if it was contagious. Who knows maybe it was some sort of tree ebola, bound to ruin the forests. She looked at the simple fence a poste every few feet, the electric poles in the distance, marking different lengths.. The fog cleared as morning progressed and she found herself still there, by the side of some highway, staring. Waiting. She grabbed her bag and got out.

She walked a mile, maybe two, you couldn’t really tell with the big sky overhead. She walked over one small hill, two big ones and over a couple of fences, She counted 152 scrub brushes or whatever the hell they were called and she lost count of the trees. At the top of the fifth hill, she laid down. Her bag as her pillow. She was only vaguely aware of the time and it was actually kin of cold, but this was where she wanted to be. She wished the sky had clouds misted of haze, or maybe the stars she was supposed to have heard about in movies. It didn’t matter. She slept, teling herself a story that she was a shaped waiting for the sheep to finish doing whatever it is that sheep do, napping in the sunlight.

Jack woke up a few hours later, shivering and unsure of what had transpired. She remember her impromptu leave of absence.

“Fuck. I could have thought about paying rent.”

Not that she loved that place anyway, with the creepy divorced guy she was sure was in love with her downstairs and something about how someone had died of alcohol poisoning in her apartment. It was cheap, and well, it was cheap.

She looked around her at the nothingness, lost in the slight hills and pockets of trees again. A tiny outbuilding sat just at the edge of her vision and a trailer not far from that. SHe hoped they didn’t own a gun, or mind strange brunettes sleeping on their property in the middle of the day.

Actually, she was hungry. SHe poked around in her bag, hoping in her need to be some sort of movie heroine that she had packed snacks.

Finally, she got up and looked toward where she thought the car was, and then toward the trailer.

“Why the hell not?” she muttered to herself and started toward the trailer.

When she reached it, she hesitated There was a small table lamp on, but her love of movies as life overtook her senses again and she flashed on thoughts of the owner as a fat man in overalls who would feed her to the pigs and keep her shoes. Oh wait, that was a n episode of criminal minds. She cou;d run, worst case.

She knocked. She heard rustling and hoped. The door opened and there stood a man straight out of Brokeback Mountain or something. He was tall and slender, with disheveled dirty blonde hair. She looked at his face. Attractive? Not really Heat ledger. But he had bright blue eyes that made up for the disproportions of his nose and ears – ears slightly too big and nose slightly….feminine. He stared at her.

“Yeah?” The brusque tone was not really welcome.

“Uhm. Hi, I’m Jack….I uh….well, my cars up the road…” she pointed…”I think over there? And I….well, I was just wondering if there was a diner or truck stop or town nearby? i’m kinda hungry.”

“You clearly aren’t from around here.”

“Not really.”

He looked and her and squinted, as if examining her. Jack guessed it was only fair, she had just spent a good five minutes staring at the guy.

“Look, you’re about an hour from anything, unless you want-a eat at the Laundromat I would gather it’s not your taste….sandwiches always taste like soap. But it’s about the best thing ‘round here. You head west for a few hours you’ll hit Billings, east for awhile, some other town. Ya-aint really prepared for the cold out here, neither.”

She shivered in her thin long=sleeve shirt.

“Not really. I uhh…..didn’t really know where I was going.”

“Well you’re here now.”

“That’d be about right.” The whole time she couldn’t stop staring at his eyes, even when he squinted, they were brilliant. When he squinted, she ended up squinting as well, just to catch the color on the slits.

“Welp.” He stood at the door, as if waiting for her to leave. They stood in silence for a bit. She wanted to leave, and it was getting more awkward by the minute. She had no idea why she was still standing there. He sighed.

“If you’re really starvin I guess you can eat with me. Don’t gotta check on the girls until later.”

“Oh, no, I mean, that’s not really necessary, I’m sorry I just….” She trailed off.

“C’mon in then”

He held the door open for her. She stepped inside.

It was slightly less than neat inside. Piles of things collected on counter, though they were neat piles. He didn’t own much.

“You gonna sit?” He gestured at the small table.

“Sure. Uhm…what’s you name?”

He grunted, turned toward the stove. A few minutes passed then he looked over his shoulder at her. “Michael.”

“Michael. Well, thanks.”

They ate in silence. She had no idea what she was doing. 10 minutes of silence and she started chattering to fill the void.

“I mean, really, thanks for the meal. I just…I got out of a bad relationship and I had to leave and somehow I ended up in Montana and it’s really pretty out here. I grew up in the midwest y’know and I forget how much I love …”

She wasn’t sure how long she’d be rattling on about nothing when she looked at him. He was smiling. It was a toothy, big smile, stained slightly be cigarettes or coffee. Probably both.

“Y’all always talk so much.”

“waht?”

“My ex, Suzanne, she lived out west for awhile, too. She couldn’t stand the silence.”

“Oh. I’m sorry I ….well I should be going.”

He stood up as she did and as she turned, he grabbed her waist.

“Wait awhile.” he whispered into her ear. Oh god, the feeling of his breath.

She stayed there for a week. Curled up in his tiny trailer, him stroking her hair and telling her about the horses and cattle about. She told him about where she had come from and how lost she felt, giving her heart to someone time and again. She told him she wasn’t sure love existed or that happiness was meant for her. He quieted her with kisses and taught her to ride, showing her the subtle valleys of the land. He made her her terrible meals, and kept her wrapped up in blankets to keep her warm. HIs hands were rough, chapped and full of calluses. His back was soft as she grabbed it every night, digging her nails in as she cried out.

She left quickly, knowing if she stayed any longer that she’d fall in love again. He stood, leaning against the table, watching her pack.

“I got something for you.”

“You’ve given me enough. I’m tired.”

He chuckled. “No, really.” He handed her an old leather journal. the ties wrapping around and tied in a messy knot.

“WHen my momma died she told me to give this to you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“My family’s different than most ‘round here. I think we were part gypsy or Indian or something. My momma always had a hint of magic about her. Sounds silly, but it’s true. She healed and prayed different than most folk. This was hers and she told me someday a woman’d come through, looking for something but not sure what it was. She told me to give this to her.”

“How do you know it’s me?”

“I don’t, but you’re my best guess so far. It’s nothing special. Just a empty journal. ‘Spose she knew I liked wandering women and that they’d need to write things down.” He shrugged.

She took it, the leather warm from his grip. He wrapped his arms around her one more time, and took her to bed. She left in the night.

She drove back to Los Angeles, hopping she still had a job. THe journal sat in her bag. When she got home, she pet her neglected cat, feed him and sent him carousing into the night. She tossed the bag into her closet.

THe lights outside her semi-decent apartment were bright, as LA always was. The sweatshirt she had stolen from Michael seemed too much and she took it off, sitting on the stoop outside she looked at the twinkling of the stars of the city in buildings and street lamps and cars passing on the freeway. She sat there for awhile, looking at the stars she always had but had forgotten.

Crowds

Alone in a crowd again
This time at the top of the world
Twinkle blink shine
The lights stretch far enough and the ground shakes
With the tremble
Of falling loves and lives
The Hilton shines close by and the couple walk by hand in hand
Here they are sharing a moment
Only spying unintentionally
Prize fighters sit alone waiting for love to come by
He’s a Teddy bear he says
Keep your head down stay in the corner
It’s a shame he lost you here

Alone in a crowd Tourists taking snapshots
To go home and show their friends
Switching out jack for Crown and the noises that made you writhe push you down
At the top of the world fighting the lonely
In the corner
Of your eye
Of your heart
Of the ring
Were all waiting for something
And the tricksters trick you into loving the unloveable the unloved the loveless the lovelorn
As the skies grow closer to light you’re hoping it’ll change
And prize fighter hope for a win
And the boys fighting the war hope for home
All waiting for something

Alone in a crowd again.

finding grace

Not poetry, not a short story, just me writing for a minute.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately trying to find grace – that place where everything is perfect, even for a moment. I feel incredibly lucky that I have many of the things that should and do many me happy – a few good friends, a job I love, a place to live that I like.

It’s not that not being in a relationship is ruining everything, but there is some connection to the outside world I’m missing. It’s that grace I find in yoga class, that moment when you’re dancing and it feels like the whole world is dancing with you, the view from the peak that puts everything into perspective. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there.

I’ve been reading this book on finding happiness. It says there are few things that universally can change your level of happiness – relationships, work, a few environmental conditions, and finding flow in life.

I’m in South Dakota today, a place I’ve wanted to go to my whole life (more on that somewhere else). We were driving and I was reading a Kerouac short story and I looked out the window. I felt this yearning to disappear into the fields and lay there until night time, just to see the stars and breathe the air. The vast flatness made it more compelling, as if when I laid down I would be part of that flatness, that nothingness, folding into the earth where people belong. We drove through a former mining town turned tourist trap and I saw a man smoking from a balcony I’m sure held prostitutes or something of the kind once upon a time. He had a long swirling mustache and he smoked a cigarette like only a man in Carhartt and boots can. It was a beautiful picture. He was staring at us, at the wide open, at the sky, at nothing in particular, cigarette smoke escaping his lungs into the chilly air.

What is grace anyhow? Is it finding a moment like my Midwestern friend, to see nothing and everything in particular? I’m not sure.

It’s missing. Something is missing. Something that makes for completeness. It could be a person, but I’m not going to rely on that – being heartbroken yet again (even when it’s your own doing) does nothing for trusting others with filling the space. It’s not simply that I need to learn to love myself or any of that crap. The missing is something different, maybe a viewpoint, a perspective I’ve lost along the way in my depression and ambition. (The ridiculousness of the words depression and ambition next to each other is not lost on me)

There is no conclusion here for me. I have no answers, just a search for whatever I lost in the last man I tried to love, or maybe before him. Maybe I just lost it now, I have no clue. But it’s gone.

lock and key

I let you in here thinking that it’d be safe and you’d never trample on the eggshells like you have over and over again it hurts too much to speak words out loud but you’re right there’s something wrong with you. When someone lets you in to the place where no one goes and you throw a party in the name of yourself there’s nothing left for me to do but throw you out and lock this all away again. It’s so pretty in the light and the pieces shine with a brilliance I think that most would find illuminating but what did you do but take all that trust and not treat this like the special place it is. They said i deserved better but I saw flashes of something that was amazing in you that no one else could give me or so I thought and the way you touched me sent sparks flying I felt like you could do the thing that no one else has done and see what I see in myself in here. But it never works the way I want it to and letting you go has hurt me but then again its my fault for thinking you would be the man I saw in your eyes instead of the man you choose to act like but god it’s so hard to not see hope in other people it’s the last shred of my personality not tampered with my sarcasm and coldness and now I’m not so sure I can ever let this happen again. It just hurts so much god oh god I don’t know how I never saw the darkness in here creeping in over there by the corner again sharp as razors and cutting open pieces of me over and over and over again. No. Let’s lock this away and never let anyone in here again I can’t stand to be disappointed again by one more person who I thought could see the light and the brilliance it’s almost better to enjoy this alone forever rather than be in this place with a broken heart and razors inching closer to hand without me wanting them there. God just leave me alone.